Massive protests against Putin sweep across Russia

Across at least 109 Russian cities, an unprecedented number of protests stood against Putin and demanded the release of opposition leader Navalny.

Large gathering of people for protests against Putin

Russian police arrested more than 3,000 people for their participation in protests against President Vladimir Putin. 

Large gatherings of people faced down authorities across numerous Russian cities to show their support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Saturday, January 23. Putin’s most high-profile critic called for protests following his arrest in Moscow. 

Navalny was flying back from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent in Russia during August 2020. Police arrested him at Sheremetyevo Airport and placed him in jail. 

Across numerous Russian cities, people took part in a massive rally to protest against Putin’s presidency and demand new faces in politics. Many chanted ‘Freedom to Navalny’ and ‘Putin go away’. 

Speaking with BBC, one woman explained why she joined the protest, “Russia has been turned into a prison camp.”

A 53-year-old protestor in Moscow told Reuters, “I’m tired of being afraid. I haven’t just turned up for myself and Navalny, but for my son, because there is no future in this country.”

Following Navalny’s call for mass rallies, people were planning on marching towards the Kremlin from Pushkin Square in Moscow. However, an hour before the planned protest, police allegedly began detaining people. 

Navalny’s wife Yulia joined the Moscow protest with the following message, “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share”.

At the Moscow rally, Yulia was briefly detained by police. On Instagram, she posted the following caption, “Apologies for the poor quality. Very bad light in the police van.”

Photos shared online from the anti-Putin protests detail various cases of police brutality against demonstrators. AFP footage showed riot police running into a crowd and beating protestors with batons.

On Friday, January 22, Navalny told protestors, “I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come.”

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